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"Science fiction and science have always danced around each other. Science fiction is the subconscious of science."
- Greg Bear

Robots Take Human Jobs  
  Robots displace human beings in the workforce.  

Fear of automation has been around since the Luddites, if not earlier, but this is an early and explicit use of the idea in science fiction.

He thought that he was living in a world in which the conflict between the machine robots and the worker was so intense that unemployment was serious problem. In practically every phase of life the machine was crowding the workingman out of his job. The robots were selling tickets in the subway stations, directing traffic, digging ditches, building new skyscrapers, forming new and unheard of additions to the army and navy. And some of them, connected to adding machines, and to typewriters in large offices were actually keeping sets of books and doing part of the stenographic work in a purely mechanical way by very capable machines.

In these dreams, Ball saw the gradual starvation of society, first, for the real pleasures of life, then, for the comforts, and later on for the actual necessities. He visioned parades of unemployed workingmen, demanding of capital a right to earn a living. But these very parades were policed by robots with blue-coats on who were very perfect in preserving order by mechanically-wielded batons...

Labor was united in denouncing the entire programme of so universally substituting machines for men. But, in spite of this opposition, the money men who controlled the new companies, such as Robots International, Television, and Radio, were determined to go on with their programme and perform the manual labor of the world with electrified machinery in the shape of men and women, who would be tireless, errorless and wageless.

Technovelgy from The Threat of the Robot, by David H. Keller.
Published by Science Wonder Stories in 1929
Additional resources -

A more positive version of this idea can be found in Paradise and Iron by Miles J. Breuer, published in Amazing Stories Quarterly (1930):

How was it possible for this one city to produce such an immense and wonderful collection?

Automatic machinery, of course! Wealth consists of the products of labor, but it has been measured in terms of human labor. Here the people had control of vast amounts of labor, labor that knew no fatigue, had no limitations, required no wages the labor of automatic machinery. They had freely at their disposal the equivalent of the labor of millions of skilled and powerful workmen, without involving the degradation of a single human soul in the monotony of toil. As a result, all the people were able to devote themselves to the higher pursuits for which men have longed in vain during the ages when necessity compelled them to labor.

Here was another Athens! Here was a nation that had developed intellect and beauty to a degree that bid fair to rival that of the old Grecian city. However, in that Athens of old, which has done so much to mold the thought and taste of the world, there was a sad moral blot. The leisure that made possible the accomplishment of its artists, statesmen, and thinkers, was achieved only through the labor of millions of slaves. Of these toiling, driven, suffering multitudes, history has nothing to say, nor of the share which they deserve in the glory of Greece

In this modern Athens there was no such disgrace. The slaves doing the drudgery behind the scenes were not human beings, but machines not the lives of a hundred human beings sacrificed to make possible one sculptor or philosopher, but only iron and oil, gasoline and electricity making beauty: the beauty of human bodies well and gracefully nurtured; the beauty of paintings, statuary, and music; the beauty of high and noble human thought.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Threat of the Robot
  More Ideas and Technology by David H. Keller
  Tech news articles related to The Threat of the Robot
  Tech news articles related to works by David H. Keller

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